Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Student loan - nearly there!

I received a statement from Student Loans at the weekend and with it came a letter explaining that I had nearly finished paying it off!  They have asked me if I can set up a direct debit rather than having it taken from my salary as I will overpay what I owe if I don't.  What an old fashioned and archaic system they have!

I have a little over £500 left to pay so I'm hoping that can be sorted out and paid off before Christmas.


Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Who needs bleach when you have the sun?

This weather is lovely isn't it?  And what a lovely discovery I made yesterday.

I was hanging the washing out (a rare occurrence these days) when I discovered one of little J's t-shirts still had bean stains down the front of it.  I hung it out anyway thinking I would pop it back in the wash basket for the next load of washing or give it a little soak.  Low and behold when I got the washing in later that day all the stains had vanished.  Amazing!

If only we had more weather like this.  All our clothes would look pristine!


Friday, 20 July 2012

New life, new budget

Now I've discovered that I'm returning to full-time work in October I have started to think about our new budget.  I'm amazed at how well we've coped on statutory maternity pay and the last two months with no pay at all.  I did save some money while I was pregnant to cover the bills etc but I've managed to open an ISA with what we haven't touched.  This made me wonder what we used to spend our money on...

I've been doing a bit of research into budgeting and I am quite taken by zero based budgeting.  The gist of it is you allocate all your pay to different categories and technically have nothing left at the beginning of the month.  You have to factor in your 'fun money' and haircuts, dentists etc but I like the idea of it and think it could work for us.  This way I get to choose the overpayment we make on the mortgage rather than it just being whatever is left over at the end of the month.

You can read more about zero based budgeting here.


Tuesday, 17 July 2012

MFW 2012 - Better get my skates on!

Those of you familiar with moneysavingexpert.com (I just love Martin!) with probably know of their brilliant forums and some of the challenges which go one there.  Back in December I joined on of the challenges on the Mortgage Free Wannabe forum and pledged to pay off £3,000 off our mortgage in 2012.

In hindsight it was a bit ambitious at the time as I was on maternity leave but I have been chipping away at it £100 a month since February and I think it might just be possible to reach the £3k target by December.  I'm currently at £600 paid off with a bit in savings allocated for the pesky mortgage.  I'll 'do the math' and get a total figure soon.

You can find details of the challenge here.  I'm number 71.


Friday, 13 July 2012

I'm gonna use it up...wear it out...

Reading some great blogs has made me realise that I have LOADS of stuff in the house that I just don't use.  Not stuff like excessive clothing or shoes but stuff like half used pots of moisturiser, make up, perfume samples etc.  Now all this stuff is perfectly usable and I vow to use it up before I go out and buy more.

A quick sweep of the bedroom and bathroom reveals:

  • 3 shampoo and conditioners (From our trip to Centre Parcs)
  • 2 Hotel bath foams
  • 2 Hotel shower gels (I see a pattern forming here - I cant just leave them in the hotel as I've technically paid for them!)
  • 2 Spray deodorants
  • Several sample sachets of shampoo, moisturiser and conditioner
  • 1 pot day cream
  • 2 Fizz ease type products
  • Benefit benetint, blusher and highlighter (left over from our wedding nearly 5 years ago - not sure if they are still safe to use?)
  • 2 Soaps
  • 3 Packs of face wipes
  • 3 Shower gels
  • 1 Footgel
  • 1 Lip balm
  • 3 Handcreams
  • 3 Cuticle creams
Now I see it all written out it seems like I cant resist taking things home from a hotel, keeping samples from magazines and storing up bits given to me for Christmas to use 'as a treat'.  They are taking over the bathroom cabinet so I need to use them up NOW!  And it should also save us a few quid in the process...


Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Reuseable nappies - are they worth the effort?

When I was pregnant I became almost obsessed with researching reusable nappies.  I loved the prints, I loved that they were environmentally friendly and I especially loved the fact they would save us money in the long run.

After much deliberation I purchased several different birth to potty nappies which we have been using since Little J was 6 weeks old.  On the whole I love them and cant imagine using disposables.  I wont deny they can be hard work but once you get your own system in place it just becomes part of the routine.  And it is all worth it when you tell someone you use washable nappies - their face is usually one of admiration or disgust!

Here are a few questions I am frequently asked:

How many nappies do you have?
I have 15 reusable nappies in total which are all birth to potty.  I have a variety of makes from Bumgenius to totsbots and even some cheap ones from eBay.  This number seems to suit our routine well.

What sort of nappies are they?
I chose birth to potty as they seemed to be the best value for money.  I have a couple of all in ones, 8 pocket nappies and 5 fitted nappies with a wrap.  All the terminology can be confusing so do your research first (I've recommended some websites below) to see what suits.  I find different nappies are good for different things. I always plump for fitted nappies with a wrap for long car journeys as they absolutely never leak for us.  The pocket nappies dry really quickly (overnight hung in the kitchen) and the all in ones are compact and are great for popping in the change bag when you are going out.

How much do they cost?
They can vary vastly but if you buy in bulk and take advantage of offers then I usually pay around £10 for a nappy.  The cheap ones from eBay cost about £4 each but I got these to top up my stash.  While they work well at the moment they don't appear to be as hard wearing as the other ones.

Dont forget many local councils give you money to use them.  I got a £25 cheque when I spent £50 or more on washable nappies. All I had to do was send a copy of the receipt.

How often do you wash and dry them?
I wash them twice a week.  I usually do a rinse first with a dash of tea tree oil then a 60deg wash.  They don't smell at all when they come out.  A few of them have a few stains that don't come out but as long as they are clean I don't mind - who sees the inside of a nappy anyway?

Whenever possible I dry them on the line.  However, in reality and this being the wettest year EVER, I have two peg racks (which I think are for socks and underwear) which I hang in the kitchen or living room.  No, they don't look great and I do try and move them if we are having visitors.

Would I do it again?
YES!  Plus the more you use them the cheaper they get! Or you can still get a good price for used nappies on eBay.

Where can I find out more info about reusable nappies?
The Nappy Lady - Great advice.  Check out her videos, they tell you everything you need to know!
Go Real - Loads of info and links to local sellers.

Reusable nappies can be addictive - you have been warned!

If anyone has any questions about reusable nappies just leave a comment and I'll do my best to answer them.